Harry Maguire has declared himself fit and available for England’s Euro 2020 match against Scotland on Friday. The Manchester United captain had previously targeted the final group game against the Czech Republic next Tuesday for his comeback from ankle ligament damage.
Having returned to training with the England squad last Thursday, he has pushed on quicker than expected and he says that it will now be up to Gareth Southgate whether he is selected. England go into the Scotland match with their tails up after Sunday’s 1-0 win against Croatia. Scotland lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic on Monday.
“I feel good,” Maguire said. “I’m back available, I’ve been training and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve done a few sessions now and I feel like my fitness is there.”
Maguire was asked whether he felt he could start against Scotland; it remains unlikely that he will do so. “Yeah, I’m available to the manager for selection,” he replied. “I’m here as a player but also as a fan so I fully understand my position in the camp. Whatever happens I want England to win – that’s my main focus.”
Maguire suffered the injury when Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi landed awkwardly on him towards the end of United’s 3-1 win at Villa Park on 9 May. He missed United’s last five games of the season, including the Europa League final defeat on penalties to Villarreal, and there was a point when he worried about whether or not he would be selected for the Euros.
That Southgate was able to name a 26-man squad undoubtedly helped him but Maguire quickly came to feel that he would be able to play a part at some point in the group phase. “Gareth has shown great faith in me and that’s not just in this camp, it’s since I made my debut,” Maguire said. “I know Gareth trusts me and it gives me great confidence to come here and try and do as much as I can for him and, most importantly, for the country.
“I knew it was a pretty serious injury because it didn’t come from impact or contact. I knew it was a twist straight away so there would be some sort of ligament damage in there. Obviously you fear the worst but I’m here now and ready to go.
“I’m sure it will niggle me for a few weeks and months. I haven’t had an ankle injury before but, from speaking to players and physios, I’m sure it will be niggling. As long as it’s stable and the pain is bearable then I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
It remains to be seen how uncomfortable things may get for Maguire. “Throughout a career in football, if you didn’t play through pain you would probably spend more time on the sideline than you would on the football pitch,” he said. “I have done it throughout my career and so has everyone else who plays week in, week out.
“As I haven’t had an ankle injury before, I couldn’t gauge the pain or stability. That is down to the physios and we do tests day in, day out. We firmly believe that it is in a good place stability-wise and that is the priority.
“With any injury you are coming back from … you haven’t played for so long, recurrences don’t very often happen but they can happen. The risk of playing and picking up an injury is just there when you play competitive football. But in terms of the ankle, I feel like it’s stable and I’m ready to go.”
Maguire’s vocal leadership at United has been there for everybody to hear in the absence of supporters and it is one of the reasons why Southgate was so keen to include him.
“I’m happy fans are back in the stadium so you can’t hear a lot of my arguments with the players,” Maguire said, with a smile. “My brother will text me, saying: ‘You have an argument with [Marcus] Rashford that game, you have an argument with someone else [in another one].’ It’s demands that I put on myself but I put on other players, as well. I demand a lot, for example, from Luke [Shaw]. I drive him forward all the time.
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“That’s one big part of the England team – we’ve got a lot of loud players and that’s only a good thing. We’ve got Conor [Coady], Tyrone [Mings], Jordan [Henderson] … H [Harry Kane], as well.
“It’s passing on your experience to the younger lads and give them real confidence to go on and express themselves. There are a lot of good leaders in this squad, good captains, and that is a real benefit of this squad compared to a few years ago when there weren’t as many vocal players in there.”